THOMAS B. STEPHENSON is one of the ablest financiers and most public-spirited citizens in Sparta, where he is secretary of the Sparta Building & Loan Association and where he is likewise engaged in the fire-insurance business. He is connected with many of the city `s enterprises of a business and other character and is a part of the old regime in domestic trade. He was born in Lancashire, England, on the 20th of November, 1855, and at the age of three years he accompanied his parents to America, location having been made in the vicinity of Toronto, Canada, from which point the mother, with her second husband, came to the States and settled at Sparta, Illinois. The father of the subject of this review was Edward Stephenson, who died soon after his advent in Canada at the early age of thirty-two years. His wife, whose maiden name was Elizabeth Preston, was a native of the same locality as himself, and the issue of their union are: R. P., a Baptist minister at Lebo, Kansas; Christopher W., of Los Angeles, California; John H., of Sparta; Illinois; Dr. E. M., of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Thomas B., the immediate subject of this notice; Elizabeth, who married M. S. Crawford and resides at Pittsburg, Kansas; and Margaret, who wedded R. S. Burns, of Sparta, but who is now deceased. After a short widowhood Mrs. Stephenson married her husband's brother, John D. Shephenson, and in the year 1860 they became residents of the Sparta community. Mr. Stephenson was a farmer until late in life, when he engaged in the calling of house carpenter and eased up the long period of his quiet life as such. He did not affiliate with politicians but was a stanch Republican in his party belief, filling some minor positions of trust and responsibility. He was called to the life eternal in the year 1907 and is surviwed by his widow, who is eighty-two years of age. Concerning the children born to this marriage, James S. and W. R. are business men at Sparta; Miss Sarah is superintendent of nurses at the Bethesda Home, St. Louis; Mary P., of Jacksonville, Florida; and Alouzo J., a member of the mercantile firm of Stephenson Brothers at Sparta. Thomas B. Stephenson was educated primarily in the schools of Sparta, completing his education in the Southern Illinois Normal University at Carbondale. He initiated his independent career as a teacher, followed that vocation in the country near Sparta for a few sessions and closed his work in the profession as one of the teachers of the Sparta schools. In 1892 he became interested in the general merchandise business in this city, beginning operations along that line with a stock of groceries and provisions, the store being conducted under the firm name of Stephenson & Beattie. Mr. Stephenson continued to be interested in this line of enterprise for the ensuing ten years, and during that period became identified with the Sparta Creamery Company, the first modern creamery in this section of the state. He was one of the prime movers in the establishment of the plant and was chosen its treasurer. During the same period he served as bookkeeper and assistant cashier of the Merchants' Exchange Bank, the successor of the bank of Crothers, Allen & Company. In 1902 Mr. Stephenson abandoned the mercantile business in order to devote his attention to financial matters in the city and, to some extent, industrial matters as well. He was one of the promoters of the Sparta Pressed Brick Company and was long general manager of that concerns He was a moving spirit in the organization of the Sparta Building & Loan Association, brought into existence in 1886, prior to his entry into commercial pursuits. The latter company has experienced
a gradual growth and each year finds it a concern of more importance to the city than the year preceding. It has issued ninety-two series of stock, forty-seven of which have matured, and the assets of the association are three hundred and ten thousand dollars. Its first board of directors comprised James Bottom, John Frohard, R. H. Rosborough; T. B. Stephenson; S. W. McGuire; P. H. Murphy; H. R. Guthrie; W. M. Brown and John A. Holdoway. The first officers were: James Bottom, president; W. J. Burnett, secretary; J. C. Simpson, treasurer; and T. B. Stephenson, vice-president. The present officers of the company are: J. C. Simpson, president; W. J. Brown, vice-president; T. B. Stephenson, secretary; and A. L. Wilson, treasurer. In addition to the preceding business connections, Mr. Stephenson is secretary and general manager of the Wilson Brothers Coal Company, of Sparta, one of the leading mining companies here and large shippers of coal. The capacity of the company `s mines amounts to six hundred tons daily. Mr. Stephenson is possessed of splendid initiative and executive ability and inasmuch as his fine success in life is entirely the outcome of his own well directed endeavors it is the more gratifying to contemplate. In politics he is aligned as a stalwart in the ranks of the Republican party and he cast his first presidential vote for James A. Garfield. Mr. Stephenson is a strong believer in the, efficacy of the church. He is associated with Gospel Hall in Sparta, has served for fourteen years as county president of the Sunday-school association, is well known among the state workers, having attended a number of local and state conventions, and, in 1911, he was sent from Illionis as one of her delegates to the International Sunday-school Convention at San Francisco. At Sparta, Illinois, on the 8th of October, 1879, Mr. Stephenson was united in marriage to Miss Mary J. Beattie, a daughter of Jacob Beattie, who came hither from Pittsburg, Pennsylvania. The Beattie family is one of old pioneer standing in Randolph county, having become identified with the affairs of this section of the state as early as 1812. Jacob Beattie died at Sparta in April, 1899, at the age of eighty years, and his cherished and devoted wife, whose maiden name was Elizabeth Mc- Millan, is now in Sparta. Concerning the children born to Mr. and Mrs. Stephenson the following record is here inserted,_Edward B., a teacher of the sciences in the University of North Dakota, was educated in Knox College, at Galesburg, Illinois, where he received his Master of Science degree, after which he entered the University of Illinois, there receiving the degree of Doctor of Philosophy; Bertha Elizabeth, who became the wife of Hugh K. Wilson in 1910, was graduated in Knox College and for two years was a teacher of Latin in the Sparta high school; and Carl C., who was graduated in Knox College with the degree of Bachelor of Science, is associated with his father in business at Sparta. He married Miss Lela Dean, of Traverse City, Michigan.